Nicky Cleere's haul points the way for Bennettsbridge
Bennettsbridge 3-19 Fullen Gaels 1-8 (All Ireland Club JHC final)
Bennettsbridge destroyed the dream of Fullen Gaels to claim the All-Ireland hurling junior club title at Croke Park yesterday.
The Kilkenny side led 3-11 to 0-6 at the break and if Fullen Gaels already had a mountain to climb at that stage, their hopes were completely extinguished 10 seconds into the second half when Vincent Morrissey's wild pull on Kevin Blanchfield gave referee John Keane little choice but to brandish a straight red card.
Tempers threatened to spill over completely when a couple of late challenges resulted in a yellow card for Alan Morrissey. By the break, Bennettsbridge's full-forward line had all found the net as the Kilkenny side used Croke Park's wide spaces to full effect.
Nicky Cleere, who was named man of the match, finished with a nine-point haul for his side. After Cleere and full-forward Morrissey traded points in the opening six minutes, Christy Walsh's side started to pull away with scores from Cormac Wafer and Aidan Cleere and once Brian Lannon found the net 12 minutes in, it was more or less all over.
Further goals from Liam Blanchfield and Hugh O'Neill before the break left 14 points between them. After that edgy start to the second period there were just two scores over the next 15 minutes before Bennettsbridge rattled off seven points in a row.
Scorers - Bennettsbridge: N Cleere 0-9 (6fs), S Morrissey 0-3, L Blanchfield, H O'Neill 1-1 each, B Lannon 1-0, C Wafer 0-2, A Cleere, K Blanchfield, M Shiel 0-1 each. Fullen Gaels: V Morrissey 0-4 (2fs), C O'Callaghan 0-3 (1pen, 2fs), T Corcoran 1-0, S Garry 0-1 (1f)
Bennettsbridge - E Cleere; J Moran, R Lennon (capt), S Wemyss; J Cleere, E Morrissey, A Cleere; D Wafer, K Blanchfield; N Cleere, S Morrissey, C Wafer; L Blanchfield, B Lannon, H O'Neill. Subs: Paul O'Neill for Wemyss, M Shiel for Lannon, Patrick O'Neill for K Blanchfield, W Murphy for O'Neill (all 56), E Fitzgerald for A Cleere (58).
Fullen Gaels - T Goulding; S Wallace, L Knocker, C Maskey (capt); V Faherty, J O'Shaughnessy, A Morrissey; S Garry, R McEntee; P Duggan, G Jacob, A O'Neill; C O'Callaghan, V Morrissey, D O'Grady. Subs: T Corcoran for O'Grady (30), N Unwin for Wallace (36), D Maskey for Duggan (52), J Sheehan for Jacob (56), D Walsh for Garry (58).
REF - J Keane (Galway)